Friday, February 16, 2007

Choosing the right flash batteries

Here's a little detail that people rarely think or talk about. What type of batteries should you be using in your flash?

There are basically four options: alkaline, nimh, ni-cad, and external packs.

Alkaline batteries are the easiest to use because they are everywhere (and costco sells packs of 40 AA's for around $10). However, they are disposable causing hazardous waste, and they are not the best performers. When they are brand new, they work well. As the charge gets sucked out by the flash, the recycle times gradually get longer and longer, forcing you to wait between shooting exposures.

Ni-Cads have been around forever. They are relatively cheap, rechargeable, and produce faster recycle times. However, they don't hold as much of a charge, so you end up changing them more often and requiring you to bring a slew of batteries with you. They are also memory-type batteries. That means you have to fully discharge them before charging them again. You can buy the more expensive chargers that will discharge the batteries before charging, or just fire your flash until they are completely spent.

Nimh batteries are my choice. They are not too expensive ($20 for a set and a charger), hold a ton of energy (so you don't have to suddenly change batteries in the middle of the toast), and recycle at a quick, consistant rate until they are nearly completely spent. They are also memory-free so you can recharge them anytime without ruining the batteries.

External battery packs provide the most power and quickest recharge times. However, they also require extra cords and extra weight. For the right situation, and for some people this provides the best option. Personally, I hate cords on my cameras when I am shooting.

1 comment:

justlettingyouknow said...
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